Declawed: Peeing Outside the Litter Box

Last Updated on April 15, 2020

If you are the owner of a cat who is declawed and has box issues, it is no coincidence. This is a very common problem faced by a lot of cat owners and most don’t understand why their cat will not use the litter box properly.

Why Is My Declawed Cat Not Using the Litter Box?

Imagine you were taken to a doctor and they told you that they had to remove your toenails and the tips of every toe bone you’ve got. Once they have been removed, you then have to walk on hard stones on your tippy-toes to use the bathroom for the rest of your life. Sound painful? You don’t even know the half of it! When a cat gets its nails removed, it is not just the nail being removed but an actual tendon in the bone. Not only this, but they are also snipping a major nerve with every nail they remove. Did I mention cats walk on their tippy-toes? This can lead to lifelong nerve shocks when walking, especially walking on uneven or hard surfaces. This is why people are told to use caution when trimming the nails of their cats. You can actually cut the nerve deep enough to cause severe bleeding and even cause permanent nerve damage to your cat

Cat Litter HURTS!

When it comes to litter, most of what is on the market is sharp and hard. If your declawed cat has issues with the nerves in its paws (most do), it may just not cover its waste or it may go as far as to refuse the use of a box altogether. Cats who have this issue tend to look for other objects to go to the bathroom on like towels, bags, clothing, and rugs. They look for things they can shift around in an attempt to cover their waste. Your cat is actually doing the right thing, just not the way you want them to. Never scold a declawed cat for doing this. They are likely in a lot of pain when going in the box. Can you blame them for not wanting to!? The cats who do not show signs of pain after this likely have lost the feeling of those nerves. This can happen right away or years down the road. Most people don’t even realize this has happened because the cat can’t say ” I don’t feel my toes!”.

The Sad Truth

What makes this more upsetting is there are people out there who will adopt a cat, declaw them, and then when the cat shows signs of peeing and/or pooping outside the box, they get rid of them. The cat is then sent off to a shelter and likely to be euthanized or bounced around from home to home never gaining a true meaningful bond with a human being. How cruel does this sound to you? If you have adopted a cat who had been declawed prior to them being in your care and you are faced with this problem, don’t give up on them. You can look for alternative litter to use such as paper, sand, or pellets. It may take some time but you must understand that this cat has been mutilated.

What declawing can cause a cat:

  • Lifelong nerve damage in the paws
  • Depression/anxiety
  • Anger issues and outbursts
  • Urinating and defecating outside the box
  • Loss of trust in the owner and other humans
Learn More About Cat Nails

Read the facts on cat nails so you are not another person who contributes to this inhumane act on our feline friends. Start here by reading 6 Amazing Facts About Cat Nails

The Good News

More and more vets in America are stopping this practice and in the UK it has been completely outlawed. There are still doctors unfortunately who do declaw cats and people who want this to be done. I am hoping by shedding some light on how painful it can be physically and emotionally for a cat to go through this, people will stop altogether.

Be Honest Before You Adopt

If you can’t handle occasional scratches on yourself or your furniture, you do not need to adopt a cat. Cats are proven to be smarter than the average dog so not being able to train them is a BS excuse. My cat is trained to only scratch what is his but he even sits, gives his paw, and walks on a leash. It took me no time to train him these things. Cats are 100% trainable to at the very least, not scratch what you don’t want them to scratch. Provide them the things they enjoy to file their nails on and this will not be an issue. You have to start a cat young on this training while they are still in the phase of “learning to hunt”. This is something most cat owners don’t even know about because their vet likely never mentioned it. You CAN train an older cat but it will take time, patience, and a lot of trust.

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7 thoughts on “Declawed: Peeing Outside the Litter Box”

  1. Hi there. We adopted a 7 year old declawed cat from a shelter about 4 months ago. He is the sweetest thing ever. Yes, he has been peeing outside the box and I have been trying to get to the bottom of it. After reading up on declawed cats I found out that yes its the litter. I have tried 3 types now and they seem to work for short periods of time- he is very picky- if there is the slightest clump in the box he will snub it. Today I have purchased the World’s Best Cat litter for Picky Cats. I will see how that goes and if this fails I will try the paper litter.

  2. Many thanks!
    My cat had gotten declawed earlier this year, and she was fine until about a month ago, where she started going wherever -it seemed – she liked. Immediately after reading this and listening to my family’s complaints about her peeing on the couches, mats, and clothes, I changed out her litter box with shredded paper. I took her to it and she felt around the new change for a little bit, walking back and forth the box before deciding she was happy. Thank you very much!

  3. So I don’t know if you guys still reply to comments here but we recently adopted a rescue and his previous owners had the poor baby declawed. He uses the litter box just fine but I hear as he gets older he may stop using it. He is 5 right now. Is there an alternative to the litter box I could provide for him in the event the litter box becomes too painful?

    • Thanks for your comment Jessica. The best option for declawed cats is softer litter. You have two options for this. You can use sand (playground/kids) mixed with baking soda. This is a very soft and cheap option when buying in bulk but it can be messy and the smells don’t get covered up as well. This is best to be used if your cat has access to an enclosed outdoor area like a closed off porch, enclosed cage area, or an attached garage. The second option is paper litter. Because it has become more popular over the last few years, more companies offer their own. I recommend Fresh News ( but you can browse around and see what other brands offer. If you are going to make the switch, it is better to do so now while he is younger so he can get used to it. Just put a small layer of regular cat litter on the bottom of the pan and then the paper litter over it. As he adjusts, add less and less regular litter. Not all declawed cats will have issues when they get older but pain can still be a factor even if they continue to use the box. Hopefully declawing cats will become outlawed in all 50 states soon.

  4. Great article. People need to know the adverse effects of declawing, unfortunately some of the veterinarian community do not educate or even deny these adverse effects. The AVMA still believes declawing keeps a cat in its home or perhaps they are just using this excuse to keep declawing. Declawing is inhumane, unnecessary & brutal, it must be banned for it is animal abuse. I hope anyone who might be considering declawing reads this article, perhaps it will save a lot of of suffering for our feline friends.

    • Thank you for your comment Kim. I agree completely. I have always said that if you can’t handle a cat clawing things, you shouldn’t own one. I took in an older cat who had his front claws removed and he cant even properly use the litter box and often just goes right on the floor. I don’t even make a fuss over it because he already knows better, it just hurts his paws to be in the litter box. I have a feeling someone threw him out because of this which is disgusting. I worked as a Vet Assistant and have seen it done with my own eyes. It is not pretty.


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